No. 21 VTech, No. 22 West Virginia renew dormant rivalry
No. 22 West Virginia (10-3 in 2016) vs. No. 21 Virginia Tech (10-4) in Landover, Maryland, Sunday 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Virginia Tech by 4.
Series record: West Virginia 28-22-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
A nice early season victory for two teams that aspire to be conference contenders while breaking in new starting quarterbacks and dealing with roster turnover in key spots. Also, bragging rights in a rivalry between schools separated by 250 miles that were once conference-mates in the Big East and played every season from 1973-2005.
Virginia Tech’s secondary vs. West Virginia’s receivers. The Hokies have three reliable corners in Brandon Facyson (recovering from wrist surgery), Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander to anchor their pass defense. The Mountaineers’ receivers are short on experience — only Ka’Raun White has more than one career start — but coaches feel good about the talent. Former quarterback David Sills Jr. is an especially intriguing target.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
West Virginia: QB Will Grier. The Florida transfer sat out last season after leaving Gainesville with an NCAA suspension for failing a drug test for performance-enhancing drugs. In six games for the Gators in 2015, Grier threw for 1,202 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech: QB Josh Jackson. Coach Justin Fuente worked wonders with first-year starter Jerod Evans last year and the Hokies won the ACC Coastal. Evans surprisingly left early to go pro so Fuente will have to do it again. Jackson is a redshirt freshman. The last time a redshirt freshman quarterback started the season for Virginia Tech was Michael Vick in 1999. That worked out OK for the Hokies.
FACTS AND FIGURES
West Virginia has won its last two games played at FedEx Field, beating James Madison in 2012 and BYU last season. Virginia Tech is 0-3 at FedEx Field. ... Each school’s Hall of Fame coach will serve as honorary captain. Frank Beamer retired after the 2015 season with 238 victories. Don Nehlen coached West Virginia from 1980-2000 and won 202 games. Beamer was 9-5 against Nehlen. ... The Black Diamond Trophy, symbolic of the coal-mining tradition in the Appalachian region, will be presented to the winning team.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25